ROYCE Simmons paid tribute to his pack of forwards after they drove Saints to a 34-16 win over Hull KR on Friday night.A double from Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and James Graham’s third of the season on his 200th-club appearance led the way.“We did some good things,” Royce said, “and our forwards were very impressive. Over the last couple of weeks our halves and backs have come good but today it was the forwards that had good plays in them.“Jammer was good on his 200th appearance and Tony Puletua, Louie and Josh Perry did well too. They supported each other – which is good as in some games this season we have run one out and haven’t put enough plays on.“They have a lot of drive in their play and we won some good quick play the balls.”James Roby laid on four of Saints six tries and Simmons says the hooker is a pleasure to coach.“The things he is achieving are superb. He has played 80 minutes in pretty much every game so far this season so we took him off as a reward because we have lots of games coming up.“I knew he was a good footballer but it’s the energy he brings to the game. He is like a clock, you crank him up and he keeps on going. He just rolls along and is such as easy going fella.”He continued: “It is really starting to feel like home here now. The fans got behind us and were noisy and backed us. We know if we continue to play good football we will get more people here and so far the fans have responded. Their singing was excellent and certainly helps us get some momentum.”
MIKE Rush is standing by his comments after the defeat to Wakefield on Sunday – but now wants to move on and focus on Castleford.The Tigers come to Langtree Park on tomorrow (Friday) to take on Saints in a Stobart Super League Round 25 clash.But despite their recent run of form Rush knows how dangerous they can be.“We saw that when we played them on Easter Monday and the game was a real battle,” he said. “They like to play an expansive brand of rugby league and have a very dangerous half-back combination.“Historically, Saints v Castleford matches have been real spectacles and I’m expecting nothing less. They normally go down to the wire and whilst that isn’t good for the health of coaches, it is great for the fans.“We will make a few enforced changes – Josh Jones and Michael Shenton are both injured so won’t play and Jon Wilkin isn’t fit to return just yet.“We need to get our performance right this week. We need to start bending our backs to get some whack back in our D because our defensive performance on Sunday wasn’t good enough.“We need to have good kick chase and match our opponent’s enthusiasm like Wakefield did with us. Perhaps we took a few things for granted and thought someone else in the line would get us going. When we did that we relaxed a little and I have to deal with those issues.”Rush was unhappy with a number of things after the Wakefield game and made his feelings clear in the post-match press conference.“I wasn’t angry, it was borne out of frustration,” he added. “I have been angry with players after performances – Magic for example – but this was a little different. I know we could have done a lot better, but it is hard when those decisions are out of my control and maybe that is something when you are an inexperienced coach you find harder. I know people say decisions like that happen – but we were on the end of a least three of them at the weekend.“I have put my case to the RFL on the phone and have spoken to Stuart Cummings about the bits of the game that frustrated me. I told him a number of tries shouldn’t have been tries and were only given because match officials’ inability to spot what was going on around them. I appreciate how difficult it is for match officials but at the end of the day I also need to protect my club and say that on that occasion we were on the wrong end of some tough calls.“At the business end of the season you can’t afford to be on the wrong end of too many 50:50 decisions but three of their tries are not 50:50 decisions. Andy Raleigh is offside when they score, we get men taken out on their first try and Ben Cockayne knocks on before getting up to play it.“Perhaps we need to have video referees at all games. I know some coaches spoke about that earlier in the season. We should have them at every game or not at all to get some consistency. I know cost is an issue and camera angles might be difficult but it needs investigating.“Now I have to move on and focus on Friday. It hurt on Sunday as I felt we were on the wrong side of it time and time and time again. But we can’t get away from the fact that our middle didn’t bang their shoulder in enough. We can fix up certain things but there is not a lot you can do when players block your path or score from offside positions.”Tickets for Friday’s match – sponsored by Oval Insurance Broking – are now on sale from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on here.
KEIRON Cunningham once again praised his side’s resilience and thanked the fans following Saints’ 30-20 win over Castleford Tigers.“The best thing to come out of the game was the way we got out to a lead towards the end of the game and defended that lead,” he said. “We were our own worst enemy at times. After every try early on we coughed up soft possession and gifted them back into the game.“It is always tough coming here. We knew it would be a physical encounter regardless of who is playing following Cas’ loss last week.“The aim when you land here is to get the result and we did that. We know we can do better but we’ve won two in a row and that is something we can build on. That resilience to defend a lead is credit to the players.“It is good to have front line players pulling on their shirts as it means we can start forging some combinations. Young Theo (Fages) is a smart player and in the last two weeks he has learnt that Mark Percival is one of the best centres in the comp. He’s never had so much ball playing with him.“Jonny Lomax came up with a great play too. He was tired out there but proved he is a gamebreaker.“Joe Greenwood too; we had to find a way of getting points and he normally gets them. Theo is working well with his little crew on the left hand side! I also thought Morgan Knowles is continuing to come of age. He played in the edges and middle and did really well.”He continued: “On a personal note I’d like to thank the fans for what they have been doing in the last few weeks.“The support today was phenomenal. They could have sat at home and not come across on a rainy Sunday but they were here, cheering the boys on.“On behalf of me, the coaching staff and the players a big thank you. You brought us home in those tough spots.”Next up for Saints in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Sixth Round tie with Hull FC at Langtree Park.The game will kick off at 4.30pm on Sunday May 8.Tickets are on sale from the Ticket Office, by calling 01744 455052 or online here.
Saints have a strong record over Salford at their own midden.They have won all fifteen matches at Knowsley Road since 1997, one game at Widnes’ Stobart Stadium in 2011 and five at Totally Wicked Stadium (2012-2016).Salford last won in St Helens on January 12 1980 (18-17) with the Saints winning 32 consecutive home meetings between the sides since then.2017 Meeting:Salford 22, St Helens 14 (SLR7, 30/3/17)Super League Summary:St Helens won 34 Salford won 6Highs and Lows:St Helens highest score: 66-16 (H, 2001) (Widest margin: 58-4, A, 2000) Salford highest score: 44-10 (H, 2016) (also widest margin)Head to Head Season Stats:SaintsSalfordTries6482Goals5172Metres23,03223,384Breaks88127Tackles6,1846,094Penalties135137Career Milestones:Zeb Taia needs one appearance to reach 100 whilst in the British game. He has played 17 games for St Helens in 2017, to go with appearances for Catalans Dragons (81, 2013-2015) and The Exiles (1, 2013).James Roby needs one try to reach a career century of touchdowns. He has touched down 91 times for St Helens since 2004, to go with 7 tries for England (2008-2013 & 2015) and 1 for Great Britain (2006-2007).Try-Scoring Runs:St Helens’ Mark Percival (2-1-1-1) has scored tries in their sides’ last four games.Betfred Super League Leading Scorers:Tries: 1 Greg Eden (Castleford Tigers) 30 2 Liam Marshall (Wigan Warriors) 18 3 Albert Kelly (Hull FC) 17 4 = Greg Minikin (Castleford Tigers), Ben Jones-Bishop (Wakefield Trinity) 15 6 Joel Moon (Leeds Rhinos) 13 7 = Jake Mamo (Huddersfield Giants), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), Jamie Shaul (Hull FC), Tom Lineham (Warrington Wolves) 12Goals: 1 Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers) 80 2 Marc Sneyd (Hull FC) 64 3 Luke Walsh (Catalans Dragons) 56 4 Mark Percival (St Helens) 46 5 Liam Sutcliffe (Leeds Rhinos) 43 6 Liam Finn (Wakefield Trinity) 42 7 Ben Reynolds (Leigh Centurions) 41 8 Michael Dobson (Salford Red Devils) 37 9 Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants) 36 10 Gareth O’Brien (Salford Red Devils) 35Goals Percentage: 1 Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos) 100.00 (10/10) 2 Marc Sneyd (Hull FC) 90.14 (64/71) 3 Luke Walsh (Catalans Dragons) 87.50 (56/64) 4 Martyn Ridyard (Huddersfield Giants/Leigh Centurions) 84.00 (21/25) 5 Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers) 83.33 (10/12) 6 Jake Connor (Hull FC) 82.35 (14/17) 7 Ben Reynolds (Leigh Centurions) 80.39 (41/51) 8 Liam Finn (Wakefield Trinity) 79.24 (42/53) 9 Michael Dobson (Salford Red Devils) 78.72 (37/47) 10 Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers) 76.92 (80/104)Points: 1 Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers) 207 2 Marc Sneyd (Hull FC) 141 3 Mark Percival (St Helens) 136 4 = Greg Eden (Castleford Tigers), Luke Walsh (Catalans Dragons) 120 6 Liam Sutcliffe (Leeds Rhinos) 107 7 Gareth O’Brien (Salford Red Devils) 96 8 = Michael Dobson (Salford Red Devils), Ben Reynolds (Leigh Centurions) 94 10 Liam Finn (Wakefield Trinity) 88
The back rower has been cited by the Match Review panel for an incident in the 63rd minute of match against Leeds.Wilkin was sinbinned by referee James Child and has subsequently been charged with a Grade B offence (Dangerous Contact – Defending player, in or after effecting a tackle, uses any part of his body forcefully to bend or apply unnecessary pressure to the head and/or neck and/or spinal column of the tackled player so as to keep the tackled player at a disadvantage in or after the tackle).He could receive a one to two game ban.Wilkin has an Early Guilty Plea available.
11 of the 17 came through the Academy, Aaron Smith made his debut and with the likes of Ben Barba and James Roby out, they all needed to stand up strong to secure a result.And that’s exactly what they did as Morgan Knowles sidestepped his way over with two minutes remaining to all but hand Saints the League Leaders’ Shield.Justin Holbrook’s side had to come from behind twice to seal a victory that was based on never giving up.Catalans led 10-0 after 15 minutes but Mark Percival crossed for his 22nd of the season to get Saints on the hunt.Percival and Kenny Edwards both had efforts chalked off shortly afterwards before Josh Drinkwater tagged on a penalty in the 27th minute to stretch Catalans lead.Saints didn’t hang around though and Theo Fages produced a sensational run from a loose ball to go under the posts.Aaron Smith made his Saints bow on the half hour mark – and was instantly involved after he was felled late by Sam Moa.That incident saw the Catalan prop sinbinned and Richardson duly added the penalty in front of the sticks to make it 14-12.After weathering the pressure, Saints suddenly had their tails up and looked to have increased their lead when Matty Lees bulldozed over from 10 metres out.But his effort was unluckily called back for a double movement even though his momentum seemed to have carried him over.Saints were 14-12 in front at the break but within five minutes of the second half, Iain Thornley had crossed in the corner to give the lead back to the hosts.Edwards then increased the lead in the 54th minute.Somehow, Saints hung on in there though and with 10 to go, Mark Percival scooted off down the left hand, sucked in the defence and found Jonny Lomax who put down.Richardson kicked the conversion – and then Morgan Knowles made his timely intervention.Fages supplied the pass but there was no stopping the hooker on his way to the line.Richardson tagged on the extras to take the lead out to 26-22 – and after Saints defended the short kick off, the fans who had made the journey over to France could finally breathe a sigh of relief.Match Summary:Dragons: Tries: Mead, Casty, Thornley, Edwards, Goals: Drinkwater (3 from 5)Saints: Tries: Percival, Fages, Lomax, Knowles Goals: Richardson (5 from 5)Penalties Awarded: Dragons: 7 Saints: 6HT: 12-14 FT: 22-26REF: Liam MooreATT: TBCTeams:Dragons: 31. Tony Gigot; 20. Lewis Tierney, 1. David Mead, 4. Brayden Wiliame, 3. Iain Thornley; 6. Samisoni Langi, 33. Josh Drinkwater; 15. Mikael Simon, 19. Michael McIlorum, 10. Sam Moa, 34. Kenny Edwards, 13. Greg Bird, 8. Rémi Casty. Subs: 14. Julian Bousquet, 17. Jason Baitieri, 24. Alrix Da Costa, 32. Mickael Goudemand.Saints: 1. Jonny Lomax; 2. Tommy Makinson, 30. Matty Costello, 4. Mark Percival, 19. Regan Grace; 6. Theo Fages, 18. Danny Richardson; 16. Luke Thompson, 15. Morgan Knowles, 10. Kyle Amor, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Jon Wilkin. Subs: 14. Luke Douglas, 20. Matty Lees, 21. Jack Ashworth, 25. Aaron Smith.